CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Every day armed military personnel provide security for installations across the globe. But, what if, the very same airman tasked to protect personnel and assets becomes an active shooter? This is the scenario the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Security Forces Squadron tested Dec. 18 at the Cheyenne Air National Guard base.
Secretary of Air Force Deborah James recently issued a memorandum for military bases to test the effectiveness of active shooter and lock down procedures. The 153rd Airlift Wing’s exercise involved a lone gunman, armed with a M-4 assault rifle and 14 magazines filled with blanks, “shooting” airmen and attempting to evade capture.
“We wanted to test the worst-case scenario where an armed security forces airman is the gunman,” said Capt. Sean Deveau, 153rd Security Forces Squadron commander. “Our No. 1 priority is the security of the base. We train and test our response to these types of
situations to make us better at securing the base.”
The exercise began around 9:30 a.m. The “shooter,” for the exercise, exited a vehicle and began his shooting spree outside the newly renovated wing headquarters building. Airmen within the building observed the member as an active shooter and informed security forces.
The base initiated lockdown procedures while the shooter attempted to enter several other buildings.
“This was a good exercise. It was realistic and helped me see how fast a situation like this can develop,” said Senior Airman Karen Klein, a member of the 153rd Logistics Readiness Squadron. “My adrenaline was pumping.”
Several security forces airmen chased down and fatally wounded the active shooter as part of the training exercise. Upon completing all the necessary building sweeps, emergency responders attended to injuries and the exercise ended.
Observers from the 153rd inspector general wing inspection team graded security forces personnel on base lockdown and response, security forces response, and recovery after the active shooter was eliminated.
Security forces airmen assigned to the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, also observed the exercise to get an understanding of how the National Guard wing conducts active shooter exercises.
Observers said they concluded the exercise was a success with the most notable aspects being how difficult it was for the shooter to enter the buildings. They also commended the communication between members of the sweep teams.